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Department of Taxation and Finance

Innocent spouse (relief from joint tax liability)

If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse are responsible for the tax and any interest or penalties due on the return. This means that if one spouse does not pay the tax due, the other is responsible. However, you may qualify for relief from some, or all, of a tax bill issued to you and your spouse (or former spouse) if you meet the following conditions:

  • there is an understatement of tax on a joint return because of an omission or error involving income, deduction, credit, or basis;
  • you can show that when you signed the return you did not know, and had no reason to know, that it understated the amount of tax due; and
  • taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understated tax.

For a bill issued for tax years 1999 or later

There are three types of relief available to you:

  • innocent spouse relief,
  • separation of liability, and
  • equitable relief.

See Form IT-285, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief (and Separation of Liability and Equitable Relief), and its instructions for the qualifying criteria for each type of relief and to apply for relief.

For a bill issued for tax years before 1999

To request innocent spouse relief for these tax years, you may file Form IT-285 or submit a signed statement with supporting documentation showing why you believe you qualify. Send your Form IT-285 or statement with supporting documentation to:

ALBANY, NY 12227-5120

For more information: